Last month, I was a panelist at the BangaloreBizLit Festival to discuss the changing role of marketing in the new normal and how my book “The Thought Leader Way” can help B2B leaders drive their business forward with thought leadership in an altered world.
It was very interesting to see the keen interest of B2B brands to focus on thought leadership. According to Edelman's thought leadership impact study, 89% of B2B buyers agree that thought leadership improves their perception about a brand reason. However, only 15% of them believe service providers are demonstrating thought leadership through their content! So as a marketer is there a winning formula for B2B thought leadership?
While marketers may think increasing the volume of content in itself will drive thought leadership, the outcome may necessarily not be the same. Thought leadership content should be driven by a unique point of view. With the volume of content being created every day, your content can stand out only when you are sharing a unique perspective. You need to ensure that your content shows your expertise in the target industry, domain, or technology, your brand's ability to make their lives easier, and proof points to show that you have demonstrated this successfully before. And all this needs to be done without the content looking too salesy.
Getting the attention of the C-suite audience is a big challenge for marketers. But if you have quality research-backed content and an interesting blend of content assets, you may stand a chance to catch their attention. Most of these business leaders look for thought leadership content to understand potential trends, insights into what others in their sector are doing and how things can be done better or differently. Your thought leadership content could fail if it isn’t answering some or all of these aspects. Your thought leadership content should be backed with data, fresh perspective, and potential models or frameworks you can use to address this. I share my “5F framework” to achieve this in my book which can help put more structure to your thought leadership efforts. Simply put, originality and quality will get the conversion.
So where does thought leadership fit into your overall content strategy? Think of thought leadership from a long-term perspective only and not just as a short-term lead generation tool! It's important to stay the course and convince your leadership team to stay invested. I have covered this in my earlier blog on what terminologies to use to get your CXO buy-in to your thought leadership marketing investments.
By investing in robust research and content development -- whether that's hiring an external expert agency or harnessing internally-held resources -- you can create a high-impact thought leadership report, which can then be repurposed across multiple channels for multiple audiences.
Some of the ways you can use this research include:
When planning thought leadership on a global level, you'll need to create assets that resonate with the global audience. If it requires some customization to be done to suit the local markets, you can explore that as well and create another version of the report for that market.
Most importantly, B2B thought leadership should never be regarded as a one-time activity. Brands should stay invested in research periodically, use data from the research and feed you your content strategy from time to time. Once you can capture the mind share of the target audience, demonstrate your thought leadership, you will garner better market share in the long run.
Karthik is the Co-Founder of Pink Ladder and Founder & Director of ThoughtStarters. He has over a decade of experience in branding, communication strategy, executive communication & thought leadership marketing, human resource and operations management. He has been instrumental in creating many award winning programs for leading brands like MeritTrac-India's largest Skills Assessment Company, Wipro Technologies and Accenture. He has worked closely with leading universities, industry bodies, analysts and research firms globally and acted as a catalyst in providing best practices and insights to customers across sectors. He has authored papers & articles in international journals & has been a guest speaker at many Ivy League Universities globally. He is a serial entrepreneur, always on the look out for the next big idea! Karthik has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science from Bangalore University and an MBA in Marketing & Finance from IIPM Bangalore.